drwex (drwex) wrote,

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Back blogging

I seem not to have written much about my back problems last year except for this one entry about PT. I'm writing this entry today to document the problems I've been having for the past week+.

Last year I had severe lower-back problems. Saw doc, got Flexoril (which worked fantastically well), got PT, didn't much care for that PT and it didn't seem to fix the problems, went to see Chiro. That guy actually diagnosed what was wrong with me - basically it comes down to my scoliosis making me swaybacked. So far, this is all about my lower back.

Last Tuesday, with no precipitating incident or injury I could figure, the muscles in between my scapula and my spine cramped up. It started as one major muscle spasm and slowly spread. I tried heat, ice, massage, and the previously remarkable Flexoril. Nothing touched this.

By day 3 I was starting to have nerve problems - numbness and tingling down my right tricep, through the elbow and into my forearm and pinkie side of the palm. I had also gotten to the point where I couldn't sleep well because every time I rolled onto my right side (apparently I do that a lot) I would compress the shoulder and the pain would wake me up.

Friday morning before heading to Arisia I went to see a doc-on-call at Lahey. She was... less helpful than I'd've liked. She was perfectly happy to prescribe me scheduled narcotics, or a drug similar to Flex, but she wouldn't give me a shot or anything localized for the spasm. To me this is just wrong-headed. I'd already tried one medication that made me loopy and sleepy - what did I need another one for. I asked a couple times for a shot to get the muscle to release but she just kept repeating "We don't do that here." Srsly? At least she was willing to give me a scrip for Lidocaine patches. Those work at least some on the muscles directly under them, to the point where I can feel how much the cramping has spread to most of my right back. She also had me switch to ibu from naproxen. I usually don't do ibu because it upsets my digestion, but clearly the naprox wasn't working.

She also sent me for cervical X-rays, which led to me getting a phone call that afternoon while I was navigating the Arisia registration mess. They want me to come in to Neurosurgery for a consultation (pardon me while I FREAK RIGHT THE FUCK OUT) but they can't get me in until February. So clearly it's not urgent please send me a mail.

At this point my baseline pain level is about a 4, often 5-6 and spiking into the 7-8 range.

Tuesday of this week I went to see an orthopedist who has treated Pygment in the past. Nice guy, gave me more info in 10 minutes than I'd gotten all the previous week. I signed a form to get the Friday X-rays sent over so I could get a second opinion on them from him.

Unfortunately, he had no immediate answers for me. He agreed that PT was appropriate. He also suggested that I try taking double Flex before bed, which I tried last night to no appreciable effect. He suggested continuing the course of ibu (600mg every 6 hours) for another week. If it's still not working I'll see him again next week and we'll switch to a steroidal anti-inflammatory and manage the side effects.

He also explained that the cortisone shot wouldn't be effective in my case. They usually give it for localized (he used the phrase "single point") pain, which this is not. We reviewed where my peripheral symptoms are and agreed that if there's a disk problem, it's in the C8 area. He agreed that since the nerve problems didn't appear until about 72 hours after the spasm there is a good chance they are side effects.

So here we go - there's not a lot I can do but ride this out. I'm 90% convinced that the ultimate cause is the shitty little pen that my workplace has shoved us into. I still don't have a dropdown keyboard tray and it's cramped. I have to turn my head to the left to see my second monitor and that motion definitely sets off the crampy muscles. May be coincidence but I don't think so. We're moving to our final building a week from Friday and if they don't set it up more ergonomically I'm going to raise holy hell.

Oh and I think I caught the Arisia con crud (cold, cough, runny nose). Go me.
Tags: health, update
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